Hockey: NHL lockout hits home

A former Beaver Valley Nitehawk and Rensselaer Polytechnic grad playing in Germany lost his job to NHL players.

The NHL lockout hit close to home last month when a former Beaver Valley Nitehawk and Rensselaer Polytechnic grad playing in Germany lost his job to NHL players.

Fruitvale native Jake Morissette  suffered a hand injury just prior to extending his contract with the German professional hockey team Eispiraten Crimmitschau. Despite the broken hand, he was confident his contract would be renewed by the Bundesliga team, that is until Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers and Chris Stewart of the St. Louis Blues became available.

“I had a two-month contract with an extension point for Sept. 25, I think, and I broke my hand two days before that, then on the day of the extension they signed two guys from the NHL, so then I wasn’t extended,” said Morissette. “It was just unfortunate, the timing on everything with the lockout and the hand, it just didn’t work out.”

The NHL lockout created a sizeable migration to Europe since it began Sept. 16. Close to 200 NHL players have flocked to European and Russian teams, displacing those hockey players that would normally have a career playing in Europe.

“Here are two guys making seven figures annually taking this guy’s job,” said Nitehawks’ coach Terry Jones.

“I have been watching situations like this happen since the lockout began but now that it has hit home, I must speak out.”

Jones, who also played pro hockey in Germany in 1992-93, still has his former player’s back. Upon hearing the news, the J. L. Crowe teacher  responded by writing a letter to the NHL Players Association (NHLPA) taking the “‘union” to task for its largely tacit approval of the practice.

“This is not a typical strike/lockout where workers are starving, and need to get another job to support families as they go through the process,” wrote Jones. “These are guys who are making millions of dollars who are replacing minor pros playing in the AHL and in Europe who barely eke out a living.”

The disparity in NHL contracts may be considerable, but it pales when compared to minor pro contracts. The minimum wage in the American Hockey League this year is $43,000 per annum and in European Leagues wages vary from a low of $30,000 up to about $100,000. The NHL minimum wage at the end of last season was $525,000 per year.

Morissette wasn’t aware that Jones wrote the letter until after the fact, but says he doesn’t necessarily blame Simmonds or Stewart.

“It’s tough from my point of view right now, but at the same time they are guys that want to play hockey too,” said Morissette. “But when they make that decision, they obviously don’t consider that it affects other people.”

Ironically, one month after Crimmitschau’s NHL  signing coup, both Simmonds and Stewart fled Germany for the Czech Republic to play for the HC Liberec of the Czech Elite League. It’s typical for players to sign month-to-month contracts in European Leagues but Morissette says he has no plans on returning to the German team even if they asked him back once the NHL resumes.

While the lockout prevails, Jones suggests that NHL players should remain in North America and support the union and take an example from Kevin Bieksa who has worked hard raising money for charity, stopping in at minor hockey practices and even participating.

“The examples demonstrated by Simmonds, Stewart, Ovechkin and everyone else, and their agents are selfish, entitled and disgraceful,” wrote Jones in his letter. “All these players have no idea of the ramifications of their actions, nor do they obviously care . . . work in a soup kitchen, volunteer at a school, go back to your hometown and make a difference while you can.

“I have zero issues with the players in terms of their labour stand, but come on boys, we need more Bieksa’s to step up and use their time in a positive way to give back to their communities.”

The lockout for players like Simmonds and Stewart may be little more than a sight-seeing tour, a vacation with benefits, however, for players like Morissette it is an opportunity not lost but stolen, needlessly appropriated by a privileged hierarchy.

Still, the 26-year-old Morissette remains magnanimous.

“I’m different from those guys, I mostly still play because I still love to play. I don’t make a fortune like they do, so I can’t say what their thoughts would or should be.”

Once Morissette’s hand heals he will pursue options in the Central Hockey League where he has played for the Rapid City Rush in 2012 and the Amarillo Gorillas in 2008-10.

Just Posted

Adrian Moyls is the Selkirk College Class of 2021 valedictorian and graduate of the School of Health and Human Services. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College valedictorian proves mettle in accomplishment

Adrian Moyls is a graduate of the School of Health and Human Services

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

The pilot of this single-engine propeller plane was unhurt after crash-landing in a Como Road orchard Friday, June 18. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Plane crash lands into Grand Forks orchard, pilot injured

RCMP have secured the crash site, pending investigation by Transport Canada

Author John Vaillant joins Lisa Moore and Fred Wah for Elephant Mountain Literary Festival’s Alumni Reading on Friday, July 9. All three authors were featured at the inaugural festival in 2012. Photo: Submitted
FESTIVAL TALES: When 2012 meets 2021

The Elephant Mountain Literary Festival will include authors from the event’s inaugural year

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

Most Read